Must-watch player: Keita Bates-Diop

Ohio State is back in tournament action for the first time since 2015 because of Bates-Diop. A 6-7 power forward, he can score from lots of spots on the floor and has the length to be disruptive defensively. A junior, he’s averaging 19.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.


Must-watch matchup: Texas A&M vs. Providence

The Aggies advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2015-16 and would love to repeat a run like that. There are eight SEC teams represented, but A&M didn’t have the best year among them. The Friars are tournament-tested, showing up for the fifth consecutive season.


Calling it now: Xavier

Xavier earned the first No. 1 seed in school history. Gonzaga could trip Xavier up in the second round if it isn’t careful, but with their high-powered offense, the Musketeers should advance unscathed through the region.

Rana L. Cash